Cambodia Must Change Course on Democracy to Avoid Myanmar’s International Isolation

ASEAN is testing the limits of its non-interference policy even as Cambodia takes up the ASEAN chair position.

Cambodia urgently needs to restart its domestic political process to avoid joining Myanmar in international isolation.

The Paris Peace Agreements on Cambodia were signed 30 years ago. The agreement was a major international achievement to end more than a decade of war in Cambodia. It stipulates that the country must hold free, fair, and competitive elections. The United Nations organized the first elections in the country in 1993, but the world decided too quickly that the job was done and forgot about Cambodia. The mandate of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) ended after the elections.

In subsequent years, the workings of the electoral system never fully satisfied neutral observers, and the National Election Committee appeared to be under the control of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). The system broke down completely in 2017, with the dissolution by the country’s Supreme Court of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

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